Tragic Accident Takes Life of Local Wildlife Researcher


Last updated 3/5/2020 at 10:48am

On January 9, John David Bittner, known for his extensive research on raptors, tragically fell to his death.

Bittner was in the Bandy Canyon area tending to cameras that monitor a Golden Eagle nest when the accident occurred.

Founder of the Wildlife Research Institute, Inc. (WRI) headquartered in Julian, Bittner was a wildlife biologist dedicated to studying and preserving the habitats of Golden Eagles, hawks, owls and many other migratory birds. Bittner was also the founder of the Hawk Watch educational presentations that occur during January and February in Ramona.

In 1968, Bittner graduated Ohio State University (OSU) with a bachelor's of science degree in Zoology and Wildlife Management.

In 1977, he completed his graduate work in Avian Reproduction and Natural Resources at OSU. Bittner's extensive research on Golden Eagles in San Diego County has become the longest study conducted in North America.

His passion for wildlife, photography and vest for life will be greatly missed. His legacy lives on through the work of the Wildlife Research Institute, his family, friends and colleagues.

In memory of David's tireless work, please consider donating to the David Bittner Eagle Research Fund (

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